Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fed up mom kicks melancholy out on its ass

Last Saturday was the first Saturday in a while I didn't spend having mini anxiety attack after mini anxiety attack. (In layman terms, that's tantrum after tantrum.)

I am really good at ignoring the fact that this house, and, in broader terms, this life, is/are still very much in disarray during the week. But Saturday always coincides with the donning of my glass-half- empty goggles and suddenly my life goes from beautifully chaotic to pathetic disaster. They should change its name to "Sadurday." Or maybe "Madderday."

There were typical "Sadurday/Madderday moments" last weekend, sure, but I managed to breathe, rather than curse audibly with alarming hostility, through them. It was as if I was swimming with a foam noodle, rather than relying on only my thrashing arms and legs, to stay afloat.

I wish I could take all the credit for this improvement, but the truth is, I'm cheating. I begged my midwife, during a long-overdue annual, to renew a long-since expired prescription for antidepressants last week.

I had all the usual, ego-fueld reservations about doing this, but my month-long battle with "PMS" this past month kind of scared me. And there is only so much crying  and self loathing you can do in front of your kids before you need to say to heck with stoicism and pride, yoga and B-vitamins,  magnesium, and Vitamin D, and regular exercise, all that other self-help, accountability garbage and do something,QUICK!

I told my midwife, the woman who guided me through both pregnancies, a woman who is as calm and spiritually vast and wise and beautiful as the sea, that I was depressed beyond what is acceptable. She did not argue when I told her I thought I needed  medication, aside from an initial suggestion of acupuncture. She could tell, I think, I was on the verge. She also knows, I know myself better than anybody.

I have taken antidepressants before, and each time was prompted by an extenuating circumstance: The Olympics, if you can believe that, Isla’s burn accident, and now this, what, triple whammy of our family being split up, coming back to America, to my home, my birthplace, after having “lived the dream” in France, and the ensuing culture shock, which, I've discovered, is a fancy word for depression. Oh yes, not to mention the harsher realities of watching the fog of Alzheimer's steadily blot out the man formerly known as my father.

It's as if his brain is full. He's not taking in any more information. He listens, sure, but he doesn't retain. Our relationship is no longer evolving in any reciprocal way. It is what it is. We've reached an impasse.

So, where was I, yes, I have taken them before. And I have always gone off them again, after a few months of having my brain hooked up to an electro stimulator. Jump start.

I’ve been taking them for one week now and imagine I feel better. I have to admit, I also feel a bit  weird. Not all here. I remember this. A bit dizzy. A buzzing in my brain, a fullness, as if my brain has expanded. It’s my heart that needs expanding, isn’t it. My brain neeeds shrinking.

But I do feel better, lighter, less prone to death by earnestness. More capable of enjoying the ridiculousness of daily life with children, without letting my angst in to wring the joy out of everything.

I am in such a better place, on a plane that is actually above ground rather than six-feet under the muck. I can see the afternoon sunlight dripping all over the changing leaves. I can see the vast blue sky, stretching like a huge dome of possibility over my head. Right now I can hear steady pounding rain falling from a sky that is completely absent of color. That too is comforting. I can smell fall in the air and it doesn't make me want to cry.

And I can feel the annoying sting of the mosquitoes, which suddenly buzz around here in menacing flocks- feasting on my helpless, sleeping children-- since they hatched post Tropical Storm Irene. (Ian tells me it's only the females who suck blood. Is that true?)

The pure, daily violence of those blood-thirsty insects almost makes me look forward to the first deep frost. Almost. But I am looking forward to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that. And that, for sure, is a start.

More musings on why we moms are so mad all the time over here at Momformation. 









27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for you :)! I went through the exact same feelings. Once I got over my ego and started the meds I could not believe how much better life was. I don't know how I went so long without them. I'm much easier on myself & my family. It's funny because husband was very against them & now he's the biggest fan :). I've loved your blogs & have been worried about you, I'm so glad you're finally feeling some relief. Thanks for always being so honest, it's been a huge comfort over the years!

Betsy said...

Anonymous: The way you describe your husbands reaction to antidepressants exactly describes my husband's reaction.

Betsy said...

And, thanks for your support, by the way.

Anonymous said...

You may have very well changed my mind about going in to get something for myself. I've had acute anxiety since I can remember and haven't taken anything for it. I go back and forth about it, but never actually DO anything. Thinking about asking for something causes me anxiety (ha ha!)! I guess pride has something to do with it. That mixed with stupidity and, voila, back to square one!

I'm so sorry that you're Dad is suffering from Alzheimer's. I went through it with my Great Grandmother many years ago and it's very difficult. I'm sure it's so much harder with a parent. Cherish the good memories. They belong to you now.

It will be good for you when winter comes and you can get out and have some winter fun. Hopefully, Ian will be home and things will get back to the way they should be. Any word on how long that process should take?

Thinking about the beautiful fall in VT and hoping that you're enjoying it. Soak in some of those beautiful red maple leaves for me!

KiminAZ

Anonymous said...

By the way, I loved the title to this post!

KiminAZ

Julie said...

My heart is soaring for you! I too an coming out of a depressed fog so I can somewhat relate.

It bothers me that there's such a huge stigma with taking meds. Our brain is an organ in our body - just like our heart, stomach, lungs etc... If it's not working just right, whether it's because the synapses aren't connecting properly or one chemical is released too much or another chemical isn't released enough - then you need to take meds. Just like you would take meds to help your heart or your stomach or your lungs! My mom has struggled with schizophrenia for most of her life and when she's on her meds (and most recently electro convulsive therapy, i.e. shock treatments) she's golden. But, when she's not... LOOK OUT! Do I think any less of her because her brain doesn't work properly? No way! It's not something she can control any more than someone can control being born with bad eyesight!

Sorry - I'll get off my soap box now!

So glad you're doing better!!!

Mama Badger said...

Good for you, Betsy. Glad to hear that you're emerging from your funk. Pride aside, you have to do what you have to do.

-alex said...

Hi Betsy,

I posted on BC as well, but I just wanted to say I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad. I'm glad you are getting the help you need via friends and medicine.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You make me want to blog more. I will have to try harder.

Carol said...

Betsy,
I stumbled onto your blog today and I'm glad I did.

Depression is such a tough condition, and one that is so misunderstood by most. I've suffered from it for years, and made peace many years ago with my brain's need for medication to treat the disorder.

Meds actually allow me to see days as hopeful and possible instead of bleak, endless and without hope. Medication also allows me to smile and not feel like weeping at the most inane circumstances.

It also allows me to be a successful businesswoman, mother of two,and wife to a terrific guy. Do any of them understand depression? No, not so much. But I'm glad they don't because that means they'll (hopefully) never have to live with it.

I actually take comfort in imagining that someday, long after I'm gone, they'll discover that there is a disruption between synapses or something like that, that occurs in the brains of people who suffer from depression.

Much like that movie years ago,"The Madness of King George," in which King George III was vilified for his odd behavior and thought to be insane. Historians today speculate that he suffered from porphyria, a blood disorder that causes a variety of symptoms including personality changes.

There's one other thing I'll say about depression ... and that's that there is a gift from it. Suffering from depression has made me more compassionate than most, and allows me to be attuned to the suffering I see all around me in my daily walk through this world.

On the lighter side, I also no longer feel especially militant or self-righteous when I hear people make slurs or insensitive statements about mental illness. I know that means they're among those who don't suffer from depression or other emotional disorder... and who also don't see how limited their worldview really is because of that.

Betsy, take your meds, smile at yourself in the mirror, and go about your life, being present to the world.
xo

Betsy said...

Kim inAZ: I am looking forward to winter. I am always more energetic, physically and mentally,in the snow.In your case, letting go of the pride is worth a try....

Betsy said...

Carol: Thanks for stopping in with all your words of wisdom. It means a lot to me.

Betsy said...

Julie: Thank you.
Alex: There's always time for blogging, don't let it weigh you down.

Lauren A. said...

*hugs* Betsy.

Winter will be here soon. Good things to come.

Emma said...

good for you Betsy- sounds like you have a very good midwife! You wouldn't hesitate to take medication for an infection, nor should you fight a losing battle against depression when it passes that line of being more than just feeling a bit low.

Sheri said...

It made me sad to read your post, Betsy. Happy that you are feeling better though! I have been feeling melancholy myself for various reasons but none that really seem worthy of extended sadness. Then I just get more sad wondering why I'm sad and why can't I snap out of it. Evil circle. ; )

Mine is not depression (pms I do believe...)and I cannot imagine the feeling of prolonged melancholy. Good for you for taking care of yourself and in turn your family benefits as well. What a good Mommy/wife. : )

Anne said...

Betsy, I stop by your blog on a regular basis and I am always thrilled when I see a new post. And this week was a particular treat with three new posts!

My heart went out to you when I read about your father. My father too is becoming a shadow of himself because of Alzheimer. His world is becoming smaller and it is heart-wrenching to watch.

I admire your decision to take some meds. I too, have been there and those little pills really made a difference!

Take good care of yourself!

Martha said...

Hi again. I was the first anonymous & wanted to add something I learned :). I went to the dooce blog today & her psychiatrist told her September & March were the worse months for depression. Apparently our brains don't like the rapidly changing daylight hours. I thought it was very interesting considering what you wrote & I've also felt moody this month. I thought it was related to school starting & the complete change of schedule, but now I'm wondering...

BTW, thanks for the new post, love the ponies! Lucky girls growing up with them & in Vermont to boot!

Betsy said...

That's interesting, Martha. I have seen at least three other blog posts in the past days where people are talking about fighting off the blues, or the mean reds, or whatever it is they have. Thanks for sharing.

Kristina said...

Betsy, I did not know about your dad. I'm sorry you, your dad and your family have to go through this. I just finished the book "Still Alice." Have you read it? It is amazing and dead-on accurate. Take care, my friend.

Betsy said...

You know, he has good days and bad days. It's in an early stage. Today was great. We stacked wood together and, along with Isla, and he was as funny as ever.

Seamingly Sarah said...

Both my sisters have taken medication for depression and I asked one sister once why she thought they both needed that and I hadn't (in a more tactful way) and she bluntly asked me right back why I thought I didn't need medication. So now every once in awhile I wonder if I could ever have enough of an outside view of myself to know if I needed medication.

And yes, it is only the female mosquitoes that bite.

Robin said...

Oh, Betsy. I posted over at BabyCenter before I saw this, and I'll share my own empathy about your dad's fight with Alzheimer's. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's probably about 10-12 years ago, and it has progressed more slowly than it does for some, but she can't live independently anymore and hasn't for some time. Even all these years later, she still has good days and bad days. This week my mom showed her some pictures of my kids from my parents' recent visit here, and she said, "Doesn't Claire have a little special necklace on a gold chain?" My mom had picked out a little fairy necklace for my grandmother to give my daughter for Christmas last year. She seems to have the best memory for her great-grandchildren, my son and daughter and my niece, and she loves stories and news about them. She sometimes doesn't interact well with them, but that has at times been partially due to medication. I'm telling you this because I'm sure you worry about your dad's relationship with your girls, but maybe they'll help to bring out the best days in him, as her great-grandchildren have done for my grandmother. I certainly hope for many more years of enjoyable times for your family together.

And like so many other posters here, I'm sending you my support. I'm a pretty anxious person myself, and I've wondered a few times if it might be worth exploring medication, but either you or one of the commenters mentioned that meds allow you (or her) to see the possibility of a good day (I can't remember the exact words), and I usually still do. So maybe no meds for me yet, but the experiences here, yours and everyone else's, have given me something of real value to think about. Thanks to you and all.

Betsy said...

Robin: Thanks so much for your comment. My girls do indeed bring out the best in my dad. Being in the moment is specialty lately and kids are naturals at that.

Katriina said...

Betsy, I have been following you on BC for a long time (I used to comment sometimes as "Kate"). I often feel a real connection with the subject matter of your posts, but mostly I just love the way you write, e.g.: "But I do feel better, lighter, less prone to death by earnestness. More capable of enjoying the ridiculousness of daily life with children, without letting my angst in to wring the joy out of everything." Brilliant! The way these words work perfectly together gives me such a buzz.

All power to you for seeking out meds. Last winter (my first in Northern Europe), I honestly believed that what I'm now sure was depression was merely weakness and lack of self-discipline in regulating my own negative thinking; I imagined that if I told myself enough times to 'suck it up' or 'get a grip' then everything would be fine. It really doesn't work like that. This year I'll try the vitamin D, and the regular exercise, and the bright sun-replacement-light, but I will also keep my doctor's phone number close at hand...

Betsy said...

Katriina: Thanks for writing, and for the compliment. It's good to get a stroke now and then. I did, and still do, exactly what you describe: Get a grip, suck it up. Just remember you would most likely never talk to someone you loved this way--unless they really deserved it-- and then you can see how it probably won't help you. Though I do think there is something to be said for trying to control your mind to some degree. I got a lot from Eckhardt Tolle's A New Earth, but there comes a point when even the present moment is unbearable, then you know you can't do it alone. Good luck. I know all about the grayness of Europe in Winter. I want to try light therapy as well, but have not yet...

Katriina said...

Betsy, just wanted to let you know that our family just invested in a light-therapy lamp! Let's see how well it works. I will say that it does wake us up well and truly in the morning (we have been putting it in the center of the breakfast table). I am still getting used to the deer-in-the-headlights sensation! - damn it's bright, and apparently we must sit as close to it as possible in order to get the full benefits. Still, I'm told that these things work wonders.

I will hunt down A New Earth. You are so right that we need to keep up the positive self-talk and mind control, even if we still find that in the end it isn't quite enough.

Kristen O said...

I just came across your blog and love it. You write so honestly and beautifully. I love your style.